There’s a good reason online shopping holds so much appeal this time of year.
“Oh, what reason is that?” burbles the person who enjoys endlessly circling the Costco parking lot and having manufactured holiday gaiety forced sideways down their ring-ting-tingling throat.
It’s because you don’t have to listen to storewide Christmas music when you’re ordering from Amazon.
I can tolerate medieval carols accompanied by lute and timbrel (mostly because I just like the word “timbrel”), but I don’t want to hear another saccharine children’s choir, or any sappy or jokey holiday music about Santa, chestnuts, kissing, some kid’s front teeth, or one single effing reindeer. Elvis excepted. Elvis is okay.
You don’t need the cynicism of Scrooge to feel this way. When I go to H-E-B the day after Thanksgiving, I can’t be the only one shuddering at the piped-in Christmas music when all I want to do, for heaven’s sake, is buy garbage bags, distilled water and flour tortillas in peace. Do retailers really believe it puts us in the holiday spirit? All it does for me is rush me out the door before I’ve got everything on my grocery list.
What happened? I used to feel genuine Christmas cheer and anticipation. Where did it go?
Well, for one thing, I’m a grownup. And not a recently grown-up one, either. For another thing, our only child is a grownup, and Glen and I haven’t stood in a dark house at midnight whispering “How are we gonna get it up the stairs?” in many years.
For a third thing, when I was six years old, the nun who taught our first grade class sent us all home for the Christmas holidays with these two gifts:
1. homework for every single day (including weekends) of our vacation, and . . .
2. the revelation that Santa Claus wasn’t real.
I don’t remember the immediate aftermath (although I’ll never forget the spiteful pleasure on her face when she told us), but I’ve heard that I came home from school very distraught that day.
My father. Had. A. FIT. He was furious with the woman for bursting my bubble of innocent belief, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. The damage was done.
Why would she do such a thing? There are any number of possibilities, none of which are because she was overburdened with a love for children. Her logic, I decided much later, must have had something to do with her interpretation of the First Commandment, the one about “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” I’m guessing she thought a belief in Santa Claus was the same as idolatry, and she saw it as her duty to stamp it out with her pointy black shoes. The fact that she enjoyed doing it was just the icing on the figgy pudding.
Okay, yes, I’m a little grumpy. Nowadays I get that way as the holidays get closer. The fact is, I had a lot of good Christmases that followed Sister Whozit’s attempt to take all the fun out of them, and when Katie was small, Glen and I both took great pleasure in keeping her Santa belief alive as long as we could. But now that Katie’s grown up and moved out, the Scrooge in me seems to emerge sooner each December, as the retailers’ pressure to “Buy, BUY, BUY!” accelerates. Long before December 25th, I start to feel as if one more inane holiday song will have me taking the butane lighter to the chestnuts of every gingerbread man I see.
Until, that is, I was in a big box home décor store the other day, and saw this:
Accidental placement? Prank? A store employee’s ironic comment on the holidays? I don’t know, but oh, how I wish I had bought it.
I don’t normally share this information with people, but the “smiling poop” is my favorite emoji. And to see it made flesh, so to speak, and displayed under these circumstances—artfully posed with the holiday decorations—made me laugh out loud. I’m sure the other customers thought I was nuts. Especially when I took out my phone while still giggling over it and snapped its picture. By the time I got home, I was kicking myself. How could I have passed it by? Holiday decorations are only the beginning. There’s no end to the places that smiling poop could have ended up. Playing a slot machine. Driving a tractor. Drinking an Eloise Sidecar. Reading my book!
Then I remembered that Star Wars game where you take a quotation from the movie and replace a key word with the word “pants.” As in, “I find your lack of pants disturbing.” Or, “I sense a great disturbance in the pants.” I could do the same thing with the phrase “smiling poop,” applying it not just to Star Wars (“May the smiling poop be with you.”), but also to:
• Shakespeare (“Shall I compare thee to a smiling poop?”)
• Robert Frost (“Whose smiling poops these are I think I know.”)
• Forrest Gump (“Life is like a box of smiling poop.”)
• Folk wisdom (“A smiling poop a day keeps the doctor away.”)
• Christmas songs! (“I Saw Mommy Kissing Smiling Poop.”)
Subversion by silliness. Now that’s what I call making the holidays bearable. One smiling poop at a time.
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